Category Archives: Uncategorized

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Parents and Families

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Sponsored Children at Home

Sponsored Family

Timyao at Home Parent

Vashi With Family

Wairengam Parent

Many remote areas of India’s North East are characterized by indigent poverty. Parents, many from a hunter-gatherer background struggle to make ends meet and earn enough to send their children to school. In spite of their tremendous difficulties and hand-to-mouth existence, most remain cheerful and determined to educate their children on a whatever-it-takes basis. Ryan Lobo, Sunbird Trust Trustee and an international photographer of repute, captured pictures of some of the parents of sponsored children of Sunbird Trust during a visit to Manipur in October 2015 with his wife Ira.


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Friendship Hostel, Ijeirong

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Site for Friendship Hostel

Stone for Hostel

In 2013, residents of Ijeirong Tulimon village in Tamenglong District of Manipur approached Sunbird team members to build a hostel in their remote village. Tucked among gently rolling hills and forests, Ijeirong had one of the better functional schools. Children from as many as 14 neighbouring villages came here to study, some trekking for over an hour and a half each way to reach. Children from the farthest villages stayed with local residents on “rent” as “self-help” boarders doing their own cooking as best they could and managing entirely by themselves. Even then, both the rent and school fees was frequently paid in firewood or rice, the parents not being able to afford the money. There was thus a crying need for a central hostel with basic facilities.

Hostel Toilets and Bathrooms

Completed Hostel

With the assurance of all help from the village community, Sunbird took on the project. A local resident donated his land for the building and the village contributed the wood from their own forest. Local farmers happily allowed volunteers to take out stone for the project from their fields. Sunbird Team members pitched in generously for the materials and construction costs while the Assam Rifles donated the tin sheets. Almost the entire skilled labour force was from Ijeirong and neighbouring villages and the workers were fairly compensated for their work. Sunbird Administrator Amos, from Ijeirong himself, wore many hats – as designer, architect, cost control supervisor and overall Project in Charge. He was ably assisted the other two co-founders of the school John and Amang.

The hostel was inaugurated on 14 Feb 2014 and commenced with 40 hostellers. Sunbird team members further contributed for levelling a large playfield, indoor games and musical instruments besides sponsoring many of the children. In March 2016, a large covered hall was added.

Girls' Dormitory

Ijeirong Team - Amos, Amang and John

Thanks to an efficient team and a well-run facility, the hostel strength had, by January 2016, almost quadrupled to 150 students. Friendship Hostel is now perhaps the largest hostel of its kind in Manipur, if not the entire North East. Designed for barely 50 hostellers, there is an urgent need for expansion and building a separate hostel for the girl students (Currently boys and girls are housed on different floors).

Fetching Water

Concept of Friendship Hostel

Friendship Hostel Ijeirong fulfils a core mission of Sunbird Trust – to provide physical access to education for underprivileged children. Inherent in this mission is creating bonds of friendship – both between donors from across the country and the beneficiary children and their families, but also between various communities and tribes. Children are therefore imbibed with broadmindedness and a spirit of tolerance to diversity in the fractured emotional landscape of a conflict zone.

Hostel Family January 2016

Acknowledgements

Construction of a large hostel in a remote area would not have been possible without the help of generous contributors: Rajesh and Renu Chabria put in the seed capital for construction of the hostel and its solar electrification. Luis and Fiona Miranda guaranteed continuing sponsorship of 36 children over three years, thus guaranteeing payment of the running costs of this venture. Have a Heart Foundation under the kind leadership of Manu Chatlani and Haresh Chandi made a major contribution to levelling the large playfield and Nutrition Scheme for the self-help children. Abhijit and Kavita Raha underwrote the hostel furniture while Stephen and Komala Mathias and Priya and Krishna Hegde contributed the cost of the toilets and bathrooms. Many other team members, all of who cannot be named here, contributed in cash and kind to various improvements.


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Muvanlai Village Primary School

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Assembly of First Batch

In 2013, village residents of tiny Muvanlai village near Singhat in Churachandpur District of Manipur approached the Sunbird team for constructing a Primary School at their village. With the help of the Border Roads Organisation the premises for the school were levelled. Dr Vivek Bhaktaram and his wife Saviya Bhaktaram contributed towards building the first classrooms to commence the school. Later, the Assam Rifles and Have a Heart Foundation helped construct more classrooms to take the school up to the 5th Standard.

First Building of Muvanlai Primary School

Though the infrastructure is in place, most parents are unable to pay even the nominal school fees. The school therefore struggles to generate enough funds for salaries and administration….a situation that, it is hoped, will be reversed with contributions of generous donors.

Nursery Classroom

The Muvanlai Village School has now been named as Ebion Friendship School by the inhabitants.


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Visit Teach for India Fellows

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Chris Rego giving a presentation on Sunbird  to TFI Fellows at Mumbai

At Muirei Village

Chris Rego with TFI Fellows

Interviewing Sponsored Child

During November 2013, Sunbird MD, Col Chris Rego was invited to give a presentation to Teach For India (TFI) Fellows as part of their LeaderSpeak series. Following this interaction, as many as 20 Fellows from across India visited Sunbird partner schools and villages in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam during their yearly break. Over the next two years, TFI fellows were hosted by the local communities From Majuli Island in the midst of the Brahamaputra River to tiny Angangba village in Tuensang District of Nagaland to partner schools in the four corners of Manipur. They contributed immensely tutoring teachers and students alike and made a meaningful impact.

TFI Fellows Sahana Sriram and Parimal with Sunbird Sponsored Children of Muirei Village

Training Programme for Muvanlai Primary School Teachers

While visits of the TFI fellows will invariably continue, schools in the North East would greatly benefit if TFI extended its activities here….


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Project Dhwani

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Dhwani Pending Sejal and Amit

IT education is often given the go by and restricted to theoretical knowledge in remote village schools – this is because there is no electricity to run the computers in the first place. Brother and sister Amit and Sejal Dsouza decided to make a difference and created, structured and conducted an independent IT Training Program for Sunbird partner schools. Called “Dhwani” – Echoing dreams through Education – the program aimed at introducing disadvantaged children to technology, giving them a window to the world. Through this intervention, they hoped to create an awareness of basic technology and to enlighten children about possible careers in Technology.

While Amit, a software Engineer took a break from his company in Singapore, Sejal, an IT Project Manager flew in from Mumbai. They received a “warm” welcome, landing at Imphal in the midst of a raging local agitation and even had to spend a night at the airport before they could be extricated. During their ten-day stay, they dodged curfews, bandhs and agitations while dealing with language barriers. Infrastructure limitations – lack of electricity, mud roads that doubled their travel time, an intermittent mobile network and no internet access – all added to the challenge.

Most of the students who had attended the program had never worked on a computer in their lives, far less on the internet or on smartphones. Sejal and Amit trained nearly a hundred teenagers from across the state at different locations. One capsule was with HIV positive school children at a Sunbird partner Home at Churachandpur.

The response to Dhwani was most positive as this turned out to be an eye-opening experience for these children, most of who were from an agricultural background. By the end of the program, a number of children expressed their interest about careers in Science and Technology.

Sejal, who is now in the USA and Amit, now plan for a return trip …….


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“Self-Help” Children and Nutrition Scheme

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Rations for Self Help Children

A major problem faced by many marginalized families in remote areas is getting access to education for their children. “Villages” are often tiny hamlets of anything between 10 to 50 huts on hilltops or in the forest without a school in sight. Children then have to trek for miles through difficult terrain to reach the nearest school. When distances are very much, these children are forced to stay on “rent” with local families in villages where schools are available. Often, they are given a small place to cook and children as young as 7 years manage almost entirely by themselves. Left with meagre provisions by their families and a little firewood, many of these “self-help” children are often undernourished.

Self Help Kitchen

With good nutrition being vitally important for a good education, Sunbird in 2015 established a basic Nutrition scheme of “An egg a day” or equivalent for vegetarians, thus helping these self-help children attain basic nutrition.


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A Cure for Kakai

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Kakai's injury

While pursuing its core mission Subird readily reaches out to families and especially children in need.

During a visit to Songlung village during June 2014, the medical team of Aarogya Seva discovered six-year-old Kakai, a Kuki tribal boy, wandering around the village with his badly swollen hand in a sling. He had fallen from a tree several days before while plucking mangoes. On being examined by Dr Daya Prasad, it was found that the child had a double fracture of his hand with infection already setting in. The family was apparently too poor to afford even the transportation costs to the nearest hospital, far less the cost of treatment. The child thus had to bear the excruciating pain without painkillers or treatment as best possible.

Kaiai recovering after surgery. Seen here with his family and Sunbird Managing Director Chris Rego

Kakai and his father were immediately taken to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at Imphal where the child was operated. He made a complete recovery in a couple of weeks.


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Medical Camps at Partner Villages

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Dr Dayaprasad treating patients
Sunbird’s holistic approach to education includes medical cover for its students wherever possible. Sunbird seeks to partner with likeminded organisations and provide them with a platform to operate in remote areas. An unfortunate reality in many far flung areas of Manipur is the almost complete lack of healthcare and doctors. In many cases, villages do not see a doctor for even a year or two and even minor curable ailments turn into crippling disabilities. The distance of the nearest medical facility is itself daunting, involving a day’s journey. Moreover, the cost of travel, medicines and hotel stay at the nearest town is well beyond the reach of most.

In June 2014, medical camps were held at Haochung and Ijeirong Villages in Tamenglong District of Manipur. Conducted by Arogya Seva, a Bangalore based NGO and partner of Sunbird, the team was headed by Dr Daya Prasad, MD, Director Arogya Seva and Trustee, Sunbird Trust. The District Commissioner Tamenglong Mr Arthur W, IAS provided full support by deputing Govt doctors to attend the camps. Later a separate camp was held at K Songlung Village in Senapati District.

During the medical camps, nearly 500 patients were treated for a variety of ailments. De-worming medicine was provided to the entire village. Highly treatable diseases like scabies, other skin infections, diarrhoea and vitamin deficiencies were diagnosed and the patients advised.

With the experience gained in conducting this camp, Aarogya Seva will be partnering Sunbird and holding these much needed camps as often as feasible.


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Succour for a Manipur Family

Category : Uncategorized

Andyson in Training
Andyson in Training

When called upon, Sunbird reaches out to young students in need, helping them transcend difficulties they are facing.

In 2007, a retired Insurance agent, Shri Laishangbam, a Meitei from Imphal, approached Sunbird for a loan for his son Andyson to pursue his Hotel Management course at Bangalore. He said that he had brought his son to the city to give him a better chance in life, given the complete lack of opportunities in his home state, Manipur. Though the amount requested was very large, the loan was raised through Sunbird team members. Andyson commenced his Hotel Management course at ITM Institute of Hotel Management. He topped his batch in the first year and secured a prestigious internship with the Oberoi hotel. However, in the meanwhile, his father suddenly of a heart attack leaving his wife and four children without any financial support whatsoever.

Unable to pay his hostel and other expenditure, Andyson left his course and returned home to Imphal. Thanks to pledges of support from Sunbird team members, he was able to rejoin and complete the course. He then secured a job with a Bangalore resort where he has worked since 2009 and is now in the process of getting employment at a hotel in Australia. An expert in baking, he can seamlessly work across cuisines and is a valued member of the team at the resort.


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Assistance for Victims of Violence

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Sonia Bomb Victim 2

In Nov 2013, militants blew up a vehicle of the Border Roads Organisation near Ukhrul town in Manipur. Seven-year-old Sonia, a special child with Down’s syndrome was travelling in the vehicle with her mother, a casual labourer with the department. In the incident, she her leg was almost blown off and she also lost a toe. After multiple surgeries and a long convalescence, Sibua is making a slow recover, albeit with a severe limp. Sunbird team members contributed to the child’s treatment. Additionally, under the “Sponsor A Child” scheme, the Trust now sponsors her two siblings, a girl in the 10th standard and her brother in the 6th standard, easing the financial burden on the family.

Lucy with Sonia

Photo courtesy: Ryan Lobo